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Visconti (lo Scarabeo)

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Visconti (lo Scarabeo)


I've been spending a little time with this deck, and I've noticed something. We're all used to Fools doing their stuff close to cliff-edges, and in some decks the Hanged Man, too, may be dangling over or near a chasm. But has anyone really *looked* at this deck? There are an inordinate number of cards taking place on or near cliffs.

In the Major Arcana we have the Fool, Magician, Wheel, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Star, Moon and last but not least the Sun. In the minors we have the Pages of Wands, Swords and Cups, and hte Knights of Pentacles and Wands.

Now, in addition to the Fool and Hanged Man, I can sorta understand the Magician, the Wheel, Death and maybe the Moon playing near cliffs, after all, in all of them we are dealing with fine lines of one kind or another. But Temperance? the Star? The Sun? The courts? (and why them - why not other Court cards?)

Now, most of us know that the Visconti in its different forms is a reconstructed deck - many of the images did not make it down the centuries to us. I'm frankly not sure how many of the cliff images are originals, and how many of them are reconstructs (in which case we can dismiss the historical significance). But if they or a number of them are from the originals, what does that tell us about how understanding of the Tarot has changed?

Off-forum, I've been indulging in quite a detailed exchange with someone about these cards, and I managed to talk him out of hte popular idea that when Bembo painted them, they were just a playing deck. The Minors certainly, but the Majors have no way of being valued in a system that might be gambling-based. could it be that they were always significant mystical archetypes, and were attached to a gaming-deck to be overlooked, to be less targetted by the harsh churches of hee day? And point two: if this is an original prototype deck and did not arise from a pre-existing Tarot culture, why are the numberings of the Majors pretty much as we know them today - why haven't they been changed around and experimented with, as you'd expect to follow a prototype?

Thoughts?
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Waking up this thread because I wanted to re-use the title (and would welcome comments on the original question, anyway).

I'm doing an annoying course again (why can't I ever enjoy learning!?), and instead of lunch, I'm taking in a different deck each time to spend time with at lunchtime.

The canteen, which is wholly unpopular with employees there, turns out to have some plastic tables with plastic chairs, but a few gorgeous, varnished timber tables with wickerwork chairs. Having been out of work a while I'm broke, so I'm not buying food, or even coffee, but having discovered those tables, I'm sitting there every lunchtime playing with cards.

Yesterday I had the Whispering Tarot with me, and a girl doing the same course was enchanted by it, and will have a reading on Sunday, which pleases both of us. Today, I took in the gold-foil LoS Visconti-Sforza for its opulence as well as its authenticity, and I was sitting there at one of the better tables shuffling and pulling the odd card, thoroughly enjoying myself, and our trainer (who had ordered chips and gravy) came over and sat with me, even though the few patrons of the place seem to have been collectively hypnotised into sitting at the shabby plastic tables.

He asked me how long I'd been reading - turned out I did my first paid reading the year he turned six! <laughter>. He asked me about "how Tarot works" so I said something-or-other in keeping with the stuff I say here, but briefer and more for a layman, and wanted to look through the deck. So I passed it over (he didn't have his food yet, so he didn't have offensively greasy paws), and he ummed and aahed at it. It was fun to watch - he revealed himself to be an Interesting Man by spending more time over Interesting Cards.

Now, what we're looking at is a yuppie guy, with a driving passion to become a millionnaire, drive a hot car (and possibly a hot woman), and "get ahead" in mainstream society. He was young enough to the adult training scene to have internalised that he couldn't possibly fraternise with his students, yet here he was lunching with one of them, a perfectly spherical woman, cool rather than hot, and *she* was teaching *him* something about an area of life that had never really come to his notice before!

It was an astonishing lunch. I told him yes, I *did* teach Tarot, but hadn't run a course for well over a year and a half (actually more than that). He said that when my time in his classroom was over, if I ever ran another course I was to contact him and enroll him. Then we both left the canteen, and suddenly we were trainer-and-student again, cool, distant and professional.

Wow.

The charm of this deck.

The beauty of having one of the Visconti variants on you, is that you can lead into a discussion of Tarot history as well as modern practice, and he became particularly involved once I referred to the 15th century - that hooked him in quicker than anything else I could have said.

And the gold-stamping on the deck, the bling factor, is probably what drew him to the table in the first place - if I'd been shuffling something without shine, perhaps he wouldn't have caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of his eye. I'm not one of hte most objectionable people to teach in this group: he'll be a pleasure to teach should it ever happen.

What a great deck. I love it all over again.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nisaba
if this is an original prototype deck and did not arise from a pre-existing Tarot culture, why are the numberings of the Majors pretty much as we know them today - why haven't they been changed around and experimented with, as you'd expect to follow a prototype?

Thoughts?
The Visconti trumps have no numbering or titles.

LoScarabeo added the numbers in the margins of its cleaned-up version.

Compare these:
http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/visconti-sforza/
http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards...yale-visconti/

Sounds like your lunch time is fun!
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Yep, I knew that, it's definitely a cleaned-up deck, even has a couple of reworked cards to replace lost ones. Numbering and titles, to me, are the least interesting part of any deck.
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Gambling with Tarot happened much later than the Visconti, when Tarot got out of the courts into the taverns. You don't "gamble" with a deck that is worth like an apartment in a palace.

In the history of Tarot we seem to have more "steps". (I'm being VERY simplicistic and approssimative, forgive me)
- origin in the Courts: XV century
- Taverns and gambling: XVI century
- Cartomancy: Etteilla
- Esoterism: French School first, golden dawn later
- New Age: seventies revival
- Today: ???

One of the most convincing theory about the origins of Tarot will not be ever popular (as we would all prefer believing that Tarot possess some hidden and powerful reason to be the way it is).
As You know, not all the surviving Visconti majors belong to Bembo's workshop, and not to the same age. It was thougth that the cards were replaced/redone as the original had been damaged or lost.
However it could also be that they were not in the original deck. The original deck would have been a deck of 5 suits of 14 cards each.
[however we have evidence that the 4x14+22 structure was present in decks in Ferrara in 145something]. Anyway a deck like that (but even a 14x4+22) could be considered a very educated game of cards for the very rich and cultured (a thing that was actually the same in Renaissance, unlike today).
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... and in relation to another thread which is currently happening parallel.... is there any evidence that these early decks were ever Majors/Trumps only?. There's that Charles VI one which which has Trumps only then ONE Page of Swords which blows the theory. But when did Majors only decks come in? There are no Visconti/Bembo/late Renaissance decks which don't have Pips are there? And the Visconti Sforza pips were definitely created at the same time as the Trumps, no?

(help me justify my distaste for Majors only decks and attribute it to something new fangled...)
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The Major only decks came into being as the esoterists of the XVIII-XIX century only dedicated themselves to the Majors, mostly disregarding/ignoring the minors. And as they are the roots of modern Tarot conceptions...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiccardoLS
The Major only decks came into being as the esoterists of the XVIII-XIX century only dedicated themselves to the Majors, mostly disregarding/ignoring the minors. And as they are the roots of modern Tarot conceptions...
The earliest one I know is this one. All others seem to be 19th Century (or maybe even 20th Century) onwards.

But this Majors/Trumps only 18th Century deck has long intrigued me.
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That's a weird one; I have it somewhere..... (facsimile, of course...) Il Meneghello - they may know ?
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Cliff edges


Ah I just noticed this yesterday! There must be a unifying reason why some are and some aren't at the edges, but I can't think of a rule that fits all.

I also discovered that you can follow a line along the top of the mountains and then along the dress and out the other side on the Moon card.
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